Opponents outnumbered supporters by a margin of two to one as thirty people took to the microphone to address the Manchester Board of School Committee on the issue of Common Core last night.  Emotions ran high as parents like Patrice Benard of Ward 8 took offense at recommended second grade  reading materials that portrayed husbands, fathers and sons as lazy, slovenly and unconcerned about the toils of wives and mothers who ultimately left them a note calling them pigs.  Jon DiPietro of Ward 6 shared the experiences of his three public school children and begged the board to stop experimenting with his children after defining a series of occurrences that concluded the district was participating in yet another educational experiment.  Sibohan Tatkus of Ward 1 urged the board to act boldly and develop its own standards, drawing from the best.  Supporters of the Core were mostly teachers who had been paid to draft the curriculum guides that had been introduced into the schools without school board approval or activists.  Ward 2’s David Scannel, faulted extremists on both sides for opposing the standards on ideological grounds, not practical ones.  He would misquote me in the process.  Leslie Want of Ward 4 said opponents of Common Core were an extreme vocal ideological minority who were like the opponents of the fluoridation of water and needed to get with the times (hey, I still oppose that) and others were similarly belittling, to the point where subsequent opponents like George D’Orazio of Ward 10 and Ward 12 school board candidate Christine Duffley jocularly and good naturedly assured folks they weren’t crazy whackadoodles, just concerned parents and grandparents.  Alton School Board Member Carlos Martinez shared why the Alton School Board rejected the standards and urged Manchester to lead the way in New Hampshire toward better standards.

In the end, Common Core would go down in flames as Superintendent Debra Livingston, with the obvious complicity and backing of Mayor Ted Gatsas and Ward 1 School Committeewoman Sarah Ambrogi, chair of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, proposed creating Manchester’s own academic standards, standards she said would take from the best available and craft something uniquely Manchester’s.  Livingston acknowledged that she once saw Common Core as a ceiling of academic standards to reach for.  But now, she says, after listening to the public and doing some additional homework, she realizes they should be considered a floor.  On Ambrogi’s motion, the board voted to enable Livingston to lead the development of the Manchester Academic Standards working with district staff and other professionals using all available resources at its disposal.  Only Ward 3 Committeeman Christopher Stewart opposed the deal.  Gatsas supported Livingston’s assertion that the district had the in house capability to get the job done, which administrators said would be done by the end of May and done in the full light of day to enable public participation.  Later in the meeting, the board would receive and file the controversial Common Core curriculum guides as well as the study committee that would include parents proposed by Ward 9 Committeeman Arthur Beaudry.  Beaudry fought hard to get parents a seat at the table developing the new standards, but the votes just weren’t there.

After the meeting, Manchester Education Association President Ben Dick told Girard at Large he was very excited by the board’s move, expressing hope the administration would work with the union to identify teachers in the buildings whose expertise would be valuable to the process.  He said the board’s action would likely change how the Manchester School District is perceived and could lead to a reinvigorated focus on educational excellence.  He was hopeful that the standards would establish Manchester as the educational leader in the state, a sentiment expressed in no uncertain terms by Gatsas during the meeting.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

The Manchester Police Patrolman‘s Association went to City Hall yesterday to file the financial disclosures required of political action committees by the city’s charter.  In an interview with Girard at Large, Association President Steve Maloney stated the reason the union did not file earlier was because they do not consider themselves a political action committee.  He said the union felt strongly that, in the spirit of full disclosure, which they say they displayed back in September when they gave Girard at Large a listing of the candidates they’d contributed to upon request, they decided to file as they had nothing to hide.  Police Patrolmens Association Pac 10 days following primary2013

Sources inside the Manchester Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate that Girard at Large was barred from broadcasting yesterday say the marquis moment of the morning came when Mayor Ted Gatsas took offense at a question asked by Chamber Executive Director Robin Comstock about why the Manchester Police Department recently shot a woman to death in her car rather than shooting the tires.  Gatsas corrected Comstock about the shooting which was done by a Trooper of the New Hamsphire State Police and noted that the Attorney General had found the use of deadly force justified.  Wonder how Police Chief David Mara, a member of the Chamber’s board of directors felt about that question…anyway, sources also tell Girard at Large the debate was poorly attended with only about seventy people making the trip to Goffstown…yeah, I said Goffstown for the Manchester mayoral debate.  Gotta love this stuff!

*NOTE:  We have been asked to clarify that Comstock was reading written questions submitted by those in attendance  and had announced that because she’d not had an opportunity to read them in advance, she would read them as written.  As we are interested first and foremost in the accuracy of our reports, we are glad to clarify this report and thank the individual who brought it to our attention.  ~ RH Girard, Host.

That’s news from our own back yard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!